therefore be alert, remembering that for three years i did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. and now i commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. i coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. you yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. in all things i have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’” [acts 20:31-35]
an example of diligent labor
paul exhorts the ephesian elders to be alert and diligent in shepherding the flock, not from self-serving motives but for the Lord. because of his diligence while among them, he is able to cite himself as their example! this is the same paul who in 1 corinthians 11:1 exhorts the corinthians to be imitators of me, as i am of Christ.
think about the people in your life that you lead, that you have influence over, or even people you wish you had influence over. what do you find yourself consistently wishing they’d do? do you find yourself saying “if only they’d just ______…” whatever that thing is, are you being faithful to do it and model it for those people as well? it’s common for us to “project” our guilt onto those around us, and that can be a good heart check—the very things we hate the most in others, we’re often guilty of ourselves.
just as God’s presence with us changes our hearts and brings conviction, our presence with others can change hearts and bring conviction in the gospel as well. repenting to non-believers for our guilt in the very things we’ve been silently hating in them is a beautiful way to share the gospel. intentionally modeling obedience after repentance is even more beautiful!
Lord, help us to live lives that reflect the gospel according to which we have been saved. convict us for the sins we despise others for that we ourselves are guilty of, and give us the courage to repent and depend on you for the strength to model obedience for the lost around us. we are desperate for your help!
~ stephen hall